Friday, July 20, 2018

Afraid Not To Live

When I was a teenager I had a near-death experience while with my father.  I went to work with him one day.  We were driving dad’s pick-up truck in Chicago in mid-afternoon when we were rear-ended by a semi-truck hauling gravel.  We were stopped at a stop light.  The semi was going 40mph.  The police told us that a split second before the truck hit us the driver jerked the wheel to the left, dealing us a less direct blow.  I was knocked unconscious and dad received bloody cuts to his face.  But we were alive.  We should not have been. I’ve never forgotten that day.  And I’ve never forgotten God’s protective Hand making sure we did not take the full blow of that truck.

I thought I was finished with near-death experiences.  My doctor dashed my assumptions this afternoon.

About eight weeks ago I became very dizzy.  It lasted all day every day.  I’m the kind of guy that is allergic to doctors.  I only go when I’m too sick to do otherwise or when my wife makes me.  I walked softly for two weeks, dealing with the light headedness.  I bumped into walls and tripped over my own feet.  I fell out of a closet at church, landing on the stage at the feet of a guitar player while the band practiced.  But I jumped up and pretended like I had just lost my balance. I knew the truth but felt no desire to share it.

A week later I had to go to the doctor for my bi-annual check-up.  Before I went I gave a few vials of blood for the tests she always wanted to run.  Much to my surprise my A1C came back at an elevated level.  I started eating better and cutting back on my beloved daily doses of soft drinks.  When I saw my doctor she called me a diabetic-wannabe.  She sent me home with more medication and directions to get a blood-glucose meter and check my blood.  I waited longer than I should have to accomplish that.  And when I finally obeyed her the meter told me to seek help as my blood sugar was a bit above the suggested 70-90 on whatever scale doctors use.  Okay, maybe more than a little bit.  The meter maxed out at 600 and I was above that number. The display on the screen told me to seek immediate medical attention.

The next weeks were a blur.  The doctor gave me the option of being admitted into the hospital or taking insulin injections at home.  I chose the latter.  But things moved slowly.  For the next three weeks my numbers were tested three times each day and rarely dipped below 400.  I felt like I was stuck in tar.  My brain functioned but only in first gear.  I remember sitting in my favorite chair and talking to God … telling Him that I felt like I was melting into it … becoming one with it.  That was just one of the moments that should have been revelatory to me.  Perhaps I am a bit denser than most.  I entertained thoughts that I was just lazy and tried to force myself to take a walk.  Not a walk down the street.  A walk across the room.  It was usually a “no go.” My eyes became so blurry that my glasses did no good.  My muscles would cramp and I could not seem to get enough water.  One day I drank three 16.9 ounce bottles of water without stopping … and I was still thirsty.  It was crazy.  And I still did not really “get it.”

My blood glucose numbers have been in the low 100’s for four days now.  It’s been a battle to get them there.  Today I went and saw my doctor again.  She is a wonderful woman that I have become friends with over the past few years.  I gave her a bible last year and wrote inside the cover about how grateful I was for her friendship and how I wanted her to know my best friend … Jesus.  I asked her to read it. The verdict is still out on that.  But today she asked the usual questions and gave me new directions to get me through this battle that will evidently last the rest of my life.  I laughed and told her some friends were afraid I was dying. That is when she told me I was.

How can you be dying and not know it?

How clueless am I?

My doctor did not laugh.  I can (and do) laugh about it.  I know that God orchestrated all of these events, including the timing of my blood tests.  I never would have gone to the doctor with the symptoms I had.  I would have just lived with them, assuming they would pass.  I was tired.  The stress level had been a bit high.  I was planning a trip to the mountains in July and I knew that would bring the rest I needed. But go the doctor? Not going to happen.  And now my doctor told me that decision would have been my last decision.

I know that God sat with me in that chair when I talked with Him and told Him that I was just fine and I needed to get back to work.  I know His gentle Hand pushed me to the rear-edge of life at just the right moment because He knew He would have to choose the timing for this disease or I would make it the death of me.  I know that He is teaching me of His faithfulness.  I know that He is less concerned with making me happy than He is with making me like Jesus.  I am walking through this with a new found sense of peace and rest.  I haven’t a worry in the world.  I feel the amazement of realizing that I am in my Father’s Hand and, as Jesus said, nothing can pluck me out of it.

I have not written on my blog in months.  I burned out on writing.  But I have not burned out on Jesus.  And He told me I needed to tell you about all of this.  Not to warn you about the dangers of diabetes.  No, I need to tell you this so you will know that He loves you just as much as He loves me.  And He will hold you in His Hand to, if you will let Him.  I hope you will.

I am not afraid to die.  But I am afraid not to live.